05/30/2006, 00.00
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12 terrorists plotting attacks on neighbouring countries arrested in Sabah

The 12 are members of a new group called Darul Islam, which may be linked to the Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah and the Filipinos of Abu Sayyaf. One of them studied in Syria.

Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Malaysian police today arrested 12 men belonging to a new Indonesian group of Islamic radicals, suspected of planning attacks in neighbouring countries. This was reported today in a national daily called The Star.

The newspaper said the 12 – at least two of them Malaysians – "worked for a previously unknown group called Darul Islam", and described the arrests as "Malaysian police's biggest success against terrorism in five years". Their last big success was in 2001, an operation cracked down on Kampulan Militan Malaysia (KMM), a national Islamic extremist group.

Following the operation, members of the KMM – linked to the Jemaah

Islamiyah, al-Qaeda ally and Asian representative – were arrested and detained under a special anti-terrorism law that allows preventive "indefinite" detention "without trial".

The daily said the 12 men were captured "recently" after six months of surveillance of their activities in Sabah, the Malaysian part of Borneo Island that borders with Indonesia. A small part of the island is occupied by the Sultan of Brunei.

Police would not confirm or deny the news.

The media source – an official who preferred to remain anonymous – said in the course of the operations, officials seized firearms and documents, which included instructions for making bombs downloaded from the Internet. Eleven of the alleged terrorists are being held at the high-security Kamunting detention center where terror suspects include KMM members.

"The group's targets are not clear," the newspaper said. "However, one of those arrested is a religious school teacher who graduated with a degree in Arabic literature from a Syrian university. Their work consisted mainly of logistical requirements for the group."

The article ends: "Police are investigating if Darul Islam has any links with the Abu Sayyaf terror group in southern Philippines and with Jemaah Islamiyah."

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